Outrageous Mobile Data Roaming Charges and Top Airline Trends

Top 5 trends shaping airline travel, identifying the true cost of your airline ticket and a rant on mobile data roaming charges.

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Hi there, Jake Hower from Pan Australian Travel with this week’s news update. It’s hints and tips again this week. We’re going to start off with the top five ways in which airlines are reshaping travel.

Number one is, we’re seeing the introduction of more and more business class at the experience of first class. Of course, that’s just a testament to the changing travel trends and people just being a little bit more price conscious in light of, I guess, the current state of the economy.

Number two is we’re seeing a lot more fully flat-beds in business class, as opposed to sleeper seats and also angled flat-beds. Personally, I’ve traveled on all three, and the comfort levels, there’s just no comparison. Fully flat-beds are the way to go if possible.

Number three is we’re seeing the introduction of a lot more low-cost, long-haul carriers introduced into the marketplace. It’s starting to cater a lot more for the price conscious traveler. It’s commoditizing travel which is, I guess, good for everybody in a way. But certainly it makes it a lot less comfortable if the choice is only a low-cost carrier.

Number four is we’re seeing the width of seats slowly being decreased over time. We’re even to a point now where some airlines, or airliners in terms of Airbus and Boeing, are even suggesting the window and middle seat of a single-aisle aircraft be a little bit narrower. Which allows the aisle seat to be wider, in which the airline can actually charge extra for that particular seat. So that’s just another way for the airlines to make a little bit of extra money, and reducing the comfort levels for all their passengers.

Number five, which is a good or a bad thing depending on which way you look at it, is we’re seeing more and more in-flight internet services being rolled out across airliners. You can pretty much just about guarantee that wherever you go in the world now you’re going to have access to the net. Which, if you like being connected, is good, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing.

OK, I’d like to talk briefly about the cost of buying travel, either online or with a travel agent, and just to give you a good idea of how much an air ticket actually costs. Now, it’s very easy to get sucked into just comparing price when you’re looking at the cost of a ticket. The reality is though that there are many more factors which affect the true cost of the airline ticket.

In my opinion, the cost of travel is the cost of travel. No matter which way you actually choose to book, there will be an incurred cost for booking that travel. And it just depends on who will actually be incurring that particular cost.

When you’re comparing the true cost of the ticket, look at a couple of different factors. The first is the amount of time it actually takes you to book the airline ticket. If you’re booking online, you’ve got to factor in research time, the actual transaction time. You’ve then also got to factor in reconfirming flights and putting together the itinerary or collating all the information that you’ve got, putting it into some sort of readable format so you can take it away with you on your trip.

Of course there are some great apps which allow you to collate this sort of information now. TripIt is one that we use in the office, and it’s one that you could easily use at home as well. It basically allows you to collate all these confirmations, and it will automatically create an itinerary for you, but there is still a time factor involved there.

Comparing it to a travel agent like us, you can generally make one or two phone calls, and leave it up to us to do all of that groundwork and that research. Generally you’ll find that we’re probably going to be, in most cases for a straight airline ticket to Europe, about $100 more expensive than what you potentially find online. But when you factor in these other things which I’ve just discussed, we well and truly come out in front. Because you’re going to spend much more than an hour of your time researching and booking and handling the travel arrangements. So you’ve got to really factor in these and see where you are going to get the best value.

A couple of other things to consider include accountability. With a travel agent we’re, of course, accountable if anything goes wrong. You can make one phone call back to us, we have a 24-hour emergency service so you can speak to the person you’ve been speaking to for the entire length of your booking of the trip while you’re away and, of course, when you come back as well. We’re there to handle and fix up any problems as they occur.

If you’ve booked it yourself, you’ll have to handle all of that. And trying to get ahold of an airline out of hours is near on impossible. The advantage that we have is that we’ve got direct access to the booking system, so we can get online without needing to pick up a phone to an airline and make the changes required.

So there you go, there’s a couple of different factors to consider when booking an airline ticket. I truly believe a travel agent will save you time and money. But you can weigh them up yourselves and you can at least make a more informed decision when choosing next time.

Finally, I’ve got a bit of a rant with the mobile carriers. With so many smartphones on the market now, what I’d really like to see is the mobile carriers dropping their roaming charges for data, it’s super expensive. About three or four months ago when I was over in New Zealand, I checked my email on my phone, sillily, I don’t know why I actually did it. I downloaded maybe two or three songs, got back and my bill was about $400. On my bill, there weren’t any phone calls, it was all data charges.

It’s just absolutely ridiculous how much we’re being charged at the moment for data roaming, considering how much everybody’s using the internet on mobile devices now. So mobile companies, get your act together and introduce some better data roaming plans for everybody.

Thanks very much for tuning in, I look forward to speaking with you again next week. If you’ve got any feedback on the show, or you would like any information on anything, please feel free to contact me or any of the guys here in the office. All the details are below, and you can also just respond to the email that I’ve sent you. Have a great week, and I’ll see you next time.

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